Today we are excited to bring you a guest blog post from our very good friend and author Bryan W. Alaspa! Take it, Bryan!
So, you’re a writer and you want to write young adult fiction. You are convinced that you have the stories, series or idea that will be the next Harry Potter, Divergent or Hunger Games. Great – but now what?
It’s a funny thing, but statistics show that more adults read stuff labeled “young adult” than the supposed demographic. As for what that demographic is, well, that varies too. Generally your tween years is when you get most of your young adult readers.
What does it mean to write that kind of fiction? The first thing you need to know is that your audience, even if they are tweens, do not want to be talked down to. They are very plugged into the world and they know that bad things happen. People die. People murder other people. Kids get killed. People have sex. So, eliminating all of that or using words you think a “kid” will appreciate will completely take them out of the story and toss your book aside.
I read an article once where Stephen King said if he had a chance to meet JK Rowling (he since has, but I don’t know if he ever asked this question) he would ask her about the Harry Potter books: When did you decide to stop writing them for kids and just to write them.
If you have read the series you know that happened. That first book just has a “kids” feel to it. It’s great adventure, but you can kind of tell this was meant for a younger audience. But, as the series went on, that sort of fell away. Ms. Rowling just told a tale with all of the violence and horror that fighting an evil creature like Voldemort would entail. It just happens that her characters are kids.
So, my advice would be to write the story that you have to tell. Author Judy Blume has been writing books for kids for decades and yet she has tackled very adult themes head-on in most of them. That should be your tactic, too.
My first YA novel was a supernatural romance called Sapphire. It had teenage protagonists and the style was a bit different than my more “adult” novels. I made the violence a tiny bit tamer, not going into such graphic detail. I even implied sex at one point, but did that in the way a PG-13 movie will show the coupe kissing and then slowly drift over to a curtain blowing gently in the wind and then fade to black.
In my most recent novel, The Lord of Winter, there is violence. There is a very scary villain. People die. That happens because for the amount of action and destruction that happens in the novel for it not to happen would not be realistic. The key is that I focus on the characters and don’t dwell on the blood and gore like I might in a horror novel.
Kids have to deal with adult things all the time. We are more plugged in today than ever before. Teens have iPhones and tablets and they see the terrorists, the 24 hour news coverage of shootings. They deal with the fact that a white dude with a beef can get easy access to a gun and walk into their school to try and work out his issues by killing a few dozen of them. So, to create a story that doesn’t live in that kind of world is lying to the reader. You don’t want your story to be dishonest.
Never talk down to them. Tell your story. If it’s a good one, they’ll listen. If it’s a really good one, hopefully they ask for more.
Bryan W. Alaspa on WRITING YOUNG ADULT NOVELS
First off, I wanted to thank Patrick for letting me guest write on his blog. I love Patrick’s work and I cannot wait for his next novel to come out. We have discovered that we share a lot of common interests and I think his work is going to become rather legendary among thriller/horror fans.
I have been writing for some time now. I first started writing when I sat down at my mom’s electric typewriter in the third grade and spent days banging out a three-page, single-spaced, no-paragraphs short story that was, essentially, a rip off of Jaws. I had been fascinated with that novel and movie even though I had yet to read it or see it. I just thought sharks were super cool.
I wrote all the time after that. Short stories, mostly, and all of them were in the realm of horror. I did a few sci-fi things, but they also had a horror bent. This was even before I discovered the likes of HP Lovecraft and Richard Matheson. I ate up horror movies constantly and began reading ghost stories and thrillers meant for kids and then for adults. I began reading adult horror starting in 6th grade when I grabbed my dad’s copy of Stephen King’s novel Cujo. I was hooked after that and began devouring horror and thrillers like a starving man.
Writing for me has always been something that I just sort of did. The stories were just there. I knew that I was writing for adult readers sometime in high school when I began adding a bit of sex into the tales and the gore and language increased. I wrote my first novel, by hand, in my senior year of high school. It was awful, of course, but it was a start and my first long-form storytelling.
I didn’t even consider writing Young Adult stories until a few years ago. It wasn’t really something I had decided to do. I was simply sitting in my living room watching a television show about ghosts and the story idea came. As I started writing it, with the main character being a young man in high school, I realized that I was not using quite as many swear words as I normally did and that the story just sort of lent itself to the description of YA. That became my romantic ghost story known as Sapphire.
I discovered that writing for a younger audience was interesting and not that much different than writing for adults. When writing for teenagers these days, you have to realize that they deal with many of the same things, ask the same questions, have the same fears and desires as adults. They just haven’t dealt with all of those feelings and their emotions are a bit wild. You cut down on the sex a bit (although teens deal with that, too) and get a little less graphic. You also cut down on the swearing a bit and –voila!
It was the aspect of dealing with teenage feelings that led to my new novel The Lightning Weaver. It tells the story of a teen girl who discovers that she has vast powers. Of course, at first, she doesn’t’ realize how to control them or understand who or what she is. She soon discovers that she is part of a race of humans known as Elementals. They can control one of the four elements, although some are more powerful than others. Imagine being a teenager with all of those confusing thoughts and feelings and wanting to fit in and then you discover you have vast powers you can barely control. Imagine you find out you aren’t really a normal human being – but some offshoot of humanity. Imagine you find out that there’s now a war coming. How would that make you feel?
It is something that I wanted to explore and then imagined three others of equal power and of the same age. What would bring them together?
Once again, I did not set out to create these stories as young adult stories, they just turned out that way. As I began writing, I realized that this was a YA series, fit for those in their teens. At the same time, I don’t attempt to “dumb down” the story. If you try to talk down to your audience, just because they’re teens, you’ll lose them.
I haven’t become just a YA author. I still write for those a bit older, but I still believe that the same basic point is to tell a compelling and well-told story. If you do that, whatever audience you choose will find you. The story is always king.
You can buy a copy of Bryan W. Alaspa’s new novel The Lightning Weaver, in ebook and print editions here: http://bryanwalaspa.com/books/the-lightning-weaver-the-elementals-part-one/
Welcome to Books, Babes, and the Business
We will be celebrating women in fiction the entire month of February.
We will host a guest blogger each day, then on February 28th from 1-3 pm EST you can join us on Facebook for a big party! We’ll have virtual refreshments, hilarious games, and REAL PRIZES! Don’t miss it! Invite your friends!
Sekhmet Press LLC
is proud to bring you
THE METATRON MYSTERIES
Beginning with a re-release of Book 1:
The Murdered Metatron
on January 11, 2014
followed quickly by Book 2:
“John Smith is a PI, and not a very successful one. Until the day two men call and offer him a job- and a large paycheck. Tracking down Virgil Callahan was the easy part- learning the story behind the man was the hard part.
And just when you think you know how the story ends, it changes again and again. Full of twists and turns and with a shocking ending, I recommend this story to anyone with the taste for the paranormal.”Kay Glass
“The Murdered Metatron is a classic blend of horror, humor, and detective work. While it is relatively short, all the elements of a great page turner are here. I…
View original post 294 more words
Today we are so excited to host Allison M. Dickson as she tells us all about
Trench Coats, Pretty Dames, and Video Games
If someone ever asks me why I wrote COLT COLTRANE AND THE LOTUS KILLER, those seven words will pretty much sum it up.
I love the way men and women dressed in the forties, fifties, and the early sixties. Everyone was gorgeous back then. Look at a picture of your mother or your grandmother from those days and try to find a flaw. Her hair will be perfectly curled and shaped. Her makeup and jewelry will be just so. Her dresses will be perfectly tailored to fit her body, because the whole concept of buying mass-produced clothing off a discount store rack was still pretty much unheard of back then, and she probably made that dress herself because it was cheaper. And the men, so crisp in their suits, their features and closely cropped haircuts set off just so by their fedoras.
While I have been in love with the COLT era for quite some time, and I had the idea of this particular book in my head for several years, I didn’t start to feel like I had it in me to actually sit down and write it. Details necessary to writing period fiction tend to elude me, and despite how many years I’d watched movies and studied the history of the era, I felt ill prepared to tackle it until I played a video game of all things. L.A. Noire, to be precise. As anyone who follows Rockstar Games knows, they pride themselves on highly detailed and authentic environments. The game happened to be set in the same year as Colt, and the main character in the game is a police officer. So not only was I able to play through actual crime scene investigation techniques necessary for Colt to know (as a former homicide cop), I was also able to get a feel for the ways people communicated, the types of cars they drove, the actual landmarks in Los Angeles at the time, and any other cultural nuances. And it was that game’s exploration of the city’s storm drain system that inspired me to create the monster lurking there. Rockstar might have taken creative liberties too, but then again I added robots to the mix.
While some would argue that video games are more of a diversion from writing than an actual tool, in this case, I would have to disagree. For someone like me, who is a very kinesthetic kind of learner, playing this game was better than watching movies or surfing the internet. I was actually able to reach out and interact with the environment in a way that was impossible in any other medium. The game also has a fantastic soundtrack (available on Spotify). In a way, the experience of using a video game to help me write this book was like the world of Colt Coltrane himself. A bridging of the past and the present to create a soupy mix of fun ideas. I can’t wait for folks to eat it up.
CLICK THE IMAGE TO BUY
Join the Virtual Release Party Saturday November 23rd 1-3 pm EST
- Strings Book Tour with Allison Dickson (arbookcorner.wordpress.com)
- Best Horror Fiction of 2013 – STRINGS (sekhmetpress.wordpress.com)
- Meet Horror Novelist Allison M. Dickson (examiner.com)
- Culling Forth the Darkness (Again) (fearwriter.wordpress.com)
- THE LAST WEDDING IN THE MIDNIGHT CHAPEL by Allison M. Dickson (sekhmetpress.wordpress.com)
- Strings: Opening Weekend Book Release (hobbesend.wordpress.com)
Allison M. Dickson, best-selling author of the new horror novel STRINGS, is here to chat with us today. Welcome Allison!
GUEST BLOG from Allison M. Dickson
This post coincides with the stare of National Novel Writing Month, the annual November marathon of creative abandon that will result (hopefully, for many) in a completed work of long fiction. I have done this every year since 2008, except I changed things up a little last year. In early October, I had this little book in mind called STRINGS, which was an extension of my short story “The Good Girls.” It was burning so hot in my brain and begging to be written that I decided I couldn’t wait for NaNoWriMo, so I was going to do TWO NaNoWriMos that year instead. Yes, that meant writing STRINGS in October and then start another book in November. MADNESS, I tell you! Especially for someone who is only moderately prolific. If I finish two books a year, I’m doing great for myself.
Well… it didn’t quite work out like I’d hoped. Writing STRINGS was a very dark and challenging thing. It was an obsession. It made me bleed. I had managed to write something like 65,000 words (13,000 additional words were comprised of the short story that I’d started with) in 26 days, and by the time I finished that first draft, I felt like I’d run a double marathon across a bed of hot coals. I didn’t have it in me to start anything again for a while after that, and to be honest it’s been a challenge to get another novel finished ever since then!
Now here I am about to do it again. I am diving back into the world of STRINGS, only this time I’m doing it properly and starting November 1st. I figure maybe my problems getting another book finished revolve around my need to delve back into this world. It’s a bit obsessive. It’s like touching a live wire but being titillated by the shock. Maybe just maybe I’ll have most of a completed first draft of THE MOON GONE DARK by November 30th. I’m very much looking forward to getting started on it. With the current buzz surrounding the book, and with the memory of my most recent STRINGS edit still fresh in my head, the energy just feels right. And I have many lofty ideas in my mind for how I want things to go for the current characters, as well as some new players I want to introduce. I want this story to be bigger than the original. Much bigger. Which is probably why I don’t anticipate finishing it IN November, but we’ll see what happens. If it’s anything at all like the first experience was, it will sink in its teeth like a crocodile and whip me back and forth until its had its fill, leaving me a busted up heap. I’ll likely be sleeping with my face in gravy on Thanksgiving. But that’s well worth it if it makes people react the way they seem to be reacting right now to the first book.
Even though I don’t foresee this being quite as visceral as STRINGS, I promise not to pull any punches. To get into the mood, I’m going to embrace the cloudy and rainy late fall weather we’ve been having lately. I’m going to be listening to a lot of dark and moody music and watching some gritty movies. I may even pick up HAUNTED by Chuck Palahniuk for a little more depraved literary inspiration. Either way, a shadow is getting ready to fall across my heart again. I’ll see you all again in the light on the other side.
Bio: Allison M. Dickson lives in Dayton, Ohio with her husband and two kids, and she has been writing since she could hold pencil to paper. It’s only in recent years that she started treating the craft as a career. After earning a few small publishing credits, she started selling her short stories online, where she gained a decent following with short stories, including her bestselling titles “Dust” and “Vermin.” She soon caught the attention of author and visionary Vincent Hobbes, and her relationship with Hobbes End Publishing solidified with her two contributions to the second volume of The Endlands, and finally with the publication of her visceral thriller novel, STRINGS, in October of 2013. Additionally, Hobbes End will be releasing her dystopian science-fiction epic, THE LAST SUPPER, in spring of 2014. When she isn’t writing, she can be found every Thursday on the podcast Creative Commoners, a show she co-hosts with her partners in crime, Chris Armstrong and Corey Bishop.
The book was smooth and super easy to read.
A man, Owen Sterling, buys land from the local Tsalagi tribe with the promise not to sell or exploit the land…
…To my surprise there was a much deeper story than I expected.
****THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS****
A Review by Bryan W. Alaspa ~
There is something about short stories. They lend themselves particularly well to the horror genre, but there is something about them that makes them not quite as popular as novels. I think it has to do with the thing that makes them work so well for me – their shortness. That may seem obvious, but bear with me.
When you have a much longer work, well, you have time to identify with the characters. You slowly immerse yourself into their world. You get to know them. Some of the best novels make you feel like they are part of your life, as if they were real people. Then you go through the ups and downs with them and, at the end, there is usually some kind of resolution. Granted, not always, and some of them leave you hanging, but even those can make you feel like you have left these people that you came to love someplace, maybe having learned something.
The short story, meanwhile, does not have that luxury. You are often flung into the worlds of the characters. You have to catch up quick, and then shocked by the horrific things that happen to them, and just when you are starting to get the rhythm and vibe of the characters, the story ends! Often short stories, more than any other type of writing, leaves you hanging, without that blissful resolution. Their literary teases.
However, that does lend itself to horror. I think it lends itself to horror better than any other genre. And the horror genre has embraced it. Most of Poe and just about all of Lovecraft came in short story form. Some of the best stories you might know from Stephen King, originated in short story form (Children of the Corn, Trucks, The Lawnmower Man).
For some, it is also an opportunity to break themselves in to a writer that they might want to try out in nugget-sized bites first. And it is in that vein that I tell you about Patrick C. Greene’s horrifying and excellent collection of short stories called Dark Destinies.
Take it away, Armand…
“…just as you are getting entirely wrapped up in their day-to-day conflicts and problems – BAM! The horror and terror starts. The story shifts into over-drive and the last third of the book races by as you click the “page” button again and again and again.”
Bryan W. Alaspa reviews Progeny at